Website: Basalt’s purchase would burden taxpayers | AspenTimes.com

Website: Basalt’s purchase would burden taxpayers

Are the residents of greater Basalt starved for parks and open space? Perhaps, but only those who don’t get out much.

Consider Willits’ beautiful Linear Park, Willits Field and proximity to our huge Crown Mountain Park along with Southside’s beautiful open space park and Wildwood Park. It seems highly unlikely that either of those communities would be enthusiastic about “investing” in yet another park.

The residents of Elk Run and surrounding subdivisions enjoy their Fisherman’s Park, Arbaney Park and the adjacent Basalt Pool within walking distance of their respective homes. Updating equipment, better maintenance and possibly even enclosing the pool for year-round use top the wish list for those community parks. All these parks boast amenities including picnic tables, barbecue pits, rest rooms and playground equipment. In each of these areas, there is sufficient open space for team play at all levels. The elementary, middle and high schools already have great and expansive outdoor play areas.

Our legacy for the Pan and Fork will be our willingness to create and protect our 2.5 acres along the shoreline for all to have access for viewing the river and the surrounding riparian area, while encouraging a well-thought-out and properly scaled development on the street-side portion to complement our commercial core and draw visitors to our river. The vitality and revenue generated by such development would actually be accountable throughout the entire year and would reimburse a portion of our millions of dollars of expenditures to date and allow us to properly complete the landscape of our river walk. Recent comments expressing a fear that a proposed development might mask access to the park fails to trust the judgment of our council and Planning and Zoning members who have the final say on what proposals conform to our town’s values while at the same time suggesting that we purchase and allow the council to control the entire parcel of land.

The present “plan,” as portrayed by our council, shows little if any creative thought and ignores both public and professional input. The arbitrary manner in which they have made decisions regarding this property and their present level of dysfunction make them unfit to manage its future.

Our Basalt River Park along with the Midland or Library Park across the river together represent over 5 acres of passive space to contemplate nature and enjoy the river flow. We own these properties, or at least we will when we make the final payment on our 2013 bond in 2020 of almost a $5 million. That will bring the total investment to over $10 million! We’re not clear yet how much money might be required to landscape it with trees, benches, lighting and a budget that would maintain it in order to do justice to this precious waterfront path and water feature. The present estimates ranging from $4 million to 9 million are partially for property that we do not own. The millions of dollars necessary to purchase and landscape the additional property on Two Rivers Road for open space for active recreation that is already so well served on other sites would be a foolish investment, at best!

We’re all exhausted by the years of gridlock that has stifled any forward momentum on this project, but these ill-conceived bond requests are not the path to take! The obvious choice then is to continue to partner with the Commercial Development Corp. (present owner) and a forthcoming development proposal to achieve a win-win for all concerned and leave the taxpayers out of it!

Vote “no” on 2F and “no” on 2G.

Steve Chase

Basalt


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